SACRAMENTO — The pilot who posted a cell phone video on YouTube revealing potential loopholes in airport security identified himself Monday and said he is "pretty shocked" by the national uproar he has caused.
Chris Liu, a 50-year-old Colfax resident and 27-year veteran pilot, said in an interview with a Sacramento television station that he never imagined his "little video" of what he felt were lax procedures at San Francisco International Airport would get much attention.
The video, posted Nov. 30, has since been pulled from YouTube, and Liu has been stripped of his role in a federal anti-terrorism program that allowed him to carry a handgun while flying. His story has been covered by media across the country – including local outlets, CNN and Fox News.
"I never even thought about being an activist," Liu told News 10 Monday night, "but it's kind of turning into that direction."
A website Liu set up to chronicle his story indicates a man on a mission.
"The Patriot Pilot: An American Hero," describes what Liu views as a contrast between security measures faced by travelers and airline employees and those faced by ground crews. He also expresses his frustration with the Transportation Security Administration's response to his security complaint.
"The Patriot Pilot is an average man, like many of us, who simply wanted to make sure that the American public was truly safe when flying the 'friendly skies,'" Liu wrote on the site.
A flashing announcement at the top of the home page said the whistle-blowing pilot would reveal his identity Monday, and that a news conference would follow today.
Liu did not return a phone call from The Bee, and the airline for which Liu works has not been identified.
Known only as a Sacramento-area pilot, Liu burst into the spotlight shortly before Christmas when TSA officials began investigating him for possibly revealing sensitive information.
Liu's attorney, Don Werno, told The Bee that Liu was part of the "federal flight deck officers" program at the time he shot the video. The program, created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, allows some pilots to carry handguns on board to derail hijacking attempts.
But TSA officials arrived at Liu's Colfax house earlier this month and confiscated his weapon. Placer County sheriff's deputies, who accompanied the TSA, suspended his permit to carry a concealed weapon.
TSA authorities have defended the action, saying that pilots who participate in the program "must be able to maintain sensitive security information."
Werno said that Liu has since flown several flights, but remains under investigation by the TSA.
Liu's gripe with airport security measures focuses on ground crews who he said need only swipe a badge to access the tarmac and parked planes.
Neither the ground workers nor their belongings are inspected, Liu argues.
Read the full story at sacbee.com